The past month of protest and progress in the United States has been inspiring. The Establishment, Fox and Democratic, has expended a ton of energy on getting people scared of things like Seattle’s Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone, and Police Abolition slogans. They haven’t managed to slow the momentum. The failure of CHAZ has actually been helpful, getting people to focus in on the possible again. All over the country, previously impossible looking things have been happening. There is certain to be back-sliding, but excellent progress has been made…
What I would like to see, and what today’s video argues for, is a shift in focus to what US white supremacy means abroad as well as domestically. Black lives matter. But so do Yemeni lives. The Yemeni catastrophe would not be possible if the US public gave a damn about Yemeni lives. Today’s video is an attempt to get people to care.
Video Transcript after the jump…
Hey there. The United States is currently having a heated conversation about white supremacy, and the power that it has over our domestic institutions. It’s a tremendously hopeful time here in this country, and I think real reform, especially of policing, is very possible. But US foreign policy is also influenced by white supremacy.
This may be clearest in Yemen, an impoverished country of 30 million that has been invaded by its northern neighbor, Saudi Arabia. The United Nations has been describing it as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis for years now.
Journalists and aid workers gave up trying to count the deaths once they topped 100,000. The country has been so brutalized by Saudi Arabia’s bombing and blockade that Yemen doesn’t even have the capacity to count the dead anymore.
80% of the country’s population is reliant on humanitarian aid. Mass starvation, Cholera, Malaria, and other diseases have been stalking the country for years now. With over half of its hospitals destroyed, Yemen is obviously completely unprepared for Covid-19, which is now raging through the country. World wide economic collapse also means that aid budgets are being slashed and remittances from Yemenis abroad are disappearing, exactly when all that money is most essential.
I really don’t like to be ambushed with photographs of starving and dead children, and I won’t force those pictures on you either, but such images are the irreducible facts of the war in Yemen. Children are dying everyday in this war, amounting to tens of thousands, and most probably hundreds of thousands of deaths since the Saudi invasion in 2015. And why is this happening? One reason is American white supremacy.
It would be one thing if this was happening because of US neglect. It would be shameful, if the world’s most powerful country was doing nothing while this was happening in a region where we have immense influence. But it’s so much worse than that. The Saudi war on Yemen is completely reliant on the United States. We could stop this war at any time.
Washington, DC has spent half a decade dodging this simple reality. We finally got the Pentagon to stop using US military planes to refuel Saudi bombers in November 2018, but the Saudi war effort remains completely reliant on the United States. A fascinating New York Times report from December 2018 documented this in great detail. Obviously, all the bombs and planes are built in the US, but it goes much further than that. US technicians maintain and repair the Saudi planes. US intelligence officers work closely with the Saudi military as it picks its targets. The US has full access to the details of every Saudi mission, even the ones that blow up school buses and hospitals. We could stop this war immediately. Tomorrow.
This war is so disgusting that anybody who spends any time at all looking at it knows it’s wrong. The US Congress, a group that usually loves any and all excuses to sell military equipment has voted to stop the war in Yemen multiple times. But it still goes on. Why? And why did it start in the first place?
This nightmare was the creation two US presidents. For the Obama administration 30 million Yemeni lives were a bargaining chip to make the Saudis feel better after the US signed a Nuclear deal with Iran. Once Obama saw the meat grinder he had created he made some half assed efforts to stop it, efforts that Trump reversed as soon as he was in office. Saudi Arabia’s well documented purchase of Donald Trump has kept the war going ever since.
As of June of 2020, Trump has used his presidential veto on laws passed by Congress 8 times. 4 of those vetoes, fully half of them, have been about continuing the war or Saudi and UAE arms sales over congressional opposition. Why is there no broader outrage here? How can this continue? Well, it’s because Yemeni lives just don’t matter to Americans the way European lives would.
Yemeni lives didn’t matter when Obama was using them as bargaining chips. Yemeni lives certainly don’t matter to Trump or the US defense contractors who are continuing the slaughter even after the US Congress has admitted repeatedly that the war is evil. Nobody is cancelling Raytheon for its role in killing tens of thousands of Yemeni children. This is white supremacy too.
Every year US police officers kill over 1000 people. This number is way too high, and horrifically racially disproportionate. But policing is unfortunately not something we can do away with completely. Not yet anyway, It does serve a purpose. The 10s of thousands of Yemeni lives that the United States ends every year are taken for no purpose at all.
Over the past month, six years of hard work by the Black Lives Matter movement have been paying off in remarkable ways. Real police reform is happening, all over the country, and this great struggle will only intensify. But if you really want to fight white supremacy we have to focus on Yemeni lives as well. Yemeni lives matter.
Unlike the battle for Black Lives and dignity in this country, which will continue for the rest of all of our lifetimes, the Battle for Yemeni lives is one that can actually be won, immediately and completely. So join me, thousands of activists across the world, and even the majority of the US Congress, in saying the words: Yemeni Lives Matter. We need to keep saying it until this savage war is done.
Yemeni Lives Matter
Thanks for watching, please subscribe, and tune in next time when we will lay out the many ways that Saudi Arabia has lost the Yemeni War Of Independence.